Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Lab Notebook

Once of the first rules of the lab that I recall learning - presumably back in general chemistry or thereabout - was to never tear pages out of the our lab notebooks or to cross things out to the extent of unreadability (although a single strikethrough is OK). The reason for this is that, in science, one never quite knows what information will turn out to be useful or which mistakes will become new and exciting pathways to follow up on. While a simple strikethrough can note that a mistake was made, keeping the data on hand maintains this knowledge in storage, where it can be retrieved in the event that there is something to be learned from it.

Rereading some of the posts on my blog, I've contemplated scrapping one or two of them. However, I've decided that, rather than striving for a non-existent perfection of expression, it would be more worthwhile to either tweak the wording of the offending posts or to write other posts that may head off misunderstanding of the ideas that I was trying to express.

This post was partially, if not entirely, inspired by a couple of blogs that I follow on which the author decided to delete a post. In both cases, the deletions were warranted, I believe, as the authors realized that they said things that they never should have said. Such is not the case with my own missteps, and is also never the case in the lab. It's nice how science often turns out to be a microcosm of the real world, only with the stakes on a lower order of magnitude.


At 3/23/2006 6:37 PM, Blogger Lab Rab said...

Yes, perfection is impossible, certainly in the lab, and not even on the blog.

You must know my good friend over in physics at UPenn.

At 3/23/2006 8:37 PM, Blogger Josh said...

I do. I'll e-mail you.


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